It is ironical that on the eve of Children’s Day, students from the economically weaker section (EWS) are still being forced to drop out of school even though the right to free and compulsory education is a fundamental right in the country. Children’s Day will be celebrated today on the occasion of the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
The day is celebrated to increase awareness of people towards the rights, care and education of children but many schoolchildren are not able to continue their education in the city.
Joti, 12, daughter of a rickshaw puller and resident of the EWS colony on Tajpur road, has dropped out of school because her parents cannot pay her school fee. Joti’s two other sisters also left school due to poor economic conditions and now all three of them are busy doing domestic work.
“We had to drop out of school due to hefty fee structure of private schools and lack of seats in government schools. I like to celebrate Children’s Day and school teachers used to distribute sweets when I was in school. Now, I am studying with a private tutor who teaches without any fee. He encouraged me to continue my studies and I decided to study. If I get any chance of attending school in future, I will definitely avail it.”
Many other children of the EWS colony on Tajpur road-Rammila, Suraj and Ranjay-are not attending school and are working with their parents to earn their livelihood. But Sandhya goes to school despite economic problems. Her mother lays emphasis on her education as she wants her daughter to have a better future through education. Sandhya, 8-year-old said, “I am studying in class 3 and I know about Children’s Day. My teacher told us about the importance of the day and we will celebrate the day in the school.”
Rajwinder, a labour leader and private tutor, said, “We teach these children without taking any fee. They are also earning hands for their parents. The main motive of any EWS family is to make both ends meet at any cost. So, many children are working in factories and at homes. Those who don’t attend school acquire bad habits too.”
Arvind, member of a Ludhiana-based NGO, Child Lines, said, “The district child protection unit rescues children from factories. But due to poor economic conditions, they are forced to drop out of school and support their parents by working. The need of hour is to make welfare policies for these children.”